Orphaned Wildlife

There is nothing more adorable than a baby animal.  They are so helpless and trusting of humans. But orphaned animals are still wild animals! They can grow up to be very self-reliant with the appropriate care. As their babies grow, many wild animal parents leave their young for longer stretches of time.  This behavior is normal. Many well-meaning people mistakenly believe young animals left alone are orphans and inadvertently take them away from their parents.

PREVENT WILDLIFE KIDNAPPING – prior to handling wildlife to make sure the baby animal is an orphan in need of care. We are happy to help you sort out which baby animals truly need help

Survival in the wild is very hard and sometimes baby animals do get sick or injured. If a baby animal is visibly injured, shows little sign of responding to your approach, or looks like they are starving, contact New England Wildlife Center at (781) 682-4878 or Cape Wildlife Center at (508) 362-0111. Leave a message if you are directed to voicemail, we check it regularly.

You can also contact your local animal control officer.

What do I do if I find…

Frequently Asked Questions About Orphaned Wildlife

Question: Can I take care of a baby animal?

Answer: It’s highly discouraged to attempt to hand raise an orphaned wild animal without a wildlife rehabilitation license. Not only is it a bad idea, but it is also illegal. The guidelines for feeding orphans are NOT designed to raise an orphan to adulthood, but rather to sustain an orphan for a few days before he or she can go to a licensed rehabilitator.

An orphaned wild animal should always be taken to a wildlife rehabilitation center where it can be hand-raised by a licensed professional, socialized with members of the same species, and ultimately released back into the wild. Contact New England Wildlife Center of Cape Wildlife Center for assistance, or visit mass.gov/service-details/find-a-wildlife-rehabilitator to find a license wildlife rehabiliator in your area.

Question: Is it OK to touch a baby animal if I am trying to help it?

Answer: Prior to handling wildlife make sure the baby animal is an orphan in need of care. Very importantly, handling should only be done with leather gloves to prevent scratches.

Question: Will NEWC’s wildlife hospital take in the orphaned animal I found?

Answer: We try to provide care for as many animals as we can!  Sometimes we do reach our capacity to care for animals. We have a limited staff and operate mainly on a volunteer basis, and, unfortunately, cannot guarantee every orphaned animal a place in the hospital on any given day.

When we feel we cannot safely care for more animals, we recommend that wildlife go to other rehabilitators or to humanely euthanize them.  There are many wildlife rehabilitators located around the state that you can contact for assistance.

Question: I see baby rabbits everywhere in the spring.  They appear to be alone.  Are they orphans?

Answer: Actually, bunnies are rarely orphaned, and mom is usually hiding close by.  If you find baby bunnies, please read the House Rabbit Society’s Information page to learn more about the best things to do for them.  More often than not, you should leave them where they are and keep pets away.

Thank you for making a difference for wildlife!

Jack BanagisOrphaned Wildlife